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Stories/Op-Ed

Roughnecks Gm Took Path Less Traveled To Nll

By Joel Griffith / NLL.com Correspondent 

Calgary Roughnecks General Manager and Peterborough, Ontario native Mike Board ventured down a slightly different road than others in his position to get where he is today.

Since graduating from the journalism program at Ryerson University in Toronto, Board, 56, spent almost 30 years in the journalism industry leading up to his start with the Roughnecks.

“I don’t think being a general manager was something I was looking to do, at first,” explained Board. “It was just one of those things where an opportunity presented itself and it seemed to be a good fit.”

Board’s last journalism-related job was with the Calgary Flames, where he worked developing the website and digital platforms, which ended up being the unexpected stepping stone for his career.

His opportunity came when the Calgary Flames owners were considering the idea of buying the Calgary Roughnecks from the current owner at the time, Brad Bannister.

In 2011, when discussions emerged regarding candidates for management positions, Board immediately expressed his interest.

“One thing lead to another and I left the digital side and became a general manager.”

Board’s career in journalism began when he enrolled at Ryerson University in 1979.

“I kind of liked history and writing, and those kinds of subjects. “I was never really an ace at math.”

After graduating, Board got his start writing for the Brampton Guardian, and made the move to Alberta a short time later to write for the Fort McMurray Today. In 1985, Board made the trek down to Calgary, where he started with the Calgary Sun, and the Calgary Herald in 1987.

Board enjoyed his time as a journalist, meeting new people and always learning.

“You get to meet a lot of different people, and get a lot of different perspectives.”

Board’s lacrosse roots go all the way back to his childhood in Ontario.

“I don’t think I missed a single summer playing lacrosse from when I was five years old, up until I started at Ryerson. “I played one season of junior A in Brampton, and then moved onto the real world.”

Bruce Masterman has been a friend of Board’s for 30 years, stretching back to their days working together at the Calgary Herald.

“He was a very good journalist, with a respect for both the facts and the language,” recalled Masterman.

“He was also extremely competitive, always striving to break stories before competing news outlets.”

Part of their pastime together included fly-fishing, which Board had never done before he started at the Calgary Herald.

“I remember teaching him to fly fish as part of a gang of reporters and editors at the Herald,” reminisced Masterman.

“Most of the students were hopeless, but he really impressed me. “It’s not an easy skill to learn, but he made it look easy.”

Masterman said the success Board has gone on to have with his career outside of journalism doesn’t surprise him.

“Whether it was the newspaper business or fly fishing, he always strived to be the best, and figured out what he needed to do to succeed. I suspect that attitude has carried through to his management of the Roughnecks.”

Roughnecks Head Coach and Assistant General Manager Curt Malawsky has worked under Board since he became general manager in 2011.

Malawsky said Board’s done a “great job” so far in his tenure with the Roughnecks, and attributes a lot of the success to his people skills.

“He knows when to schmooze people, and he knows when to bite,” explained Malawsky. “He’s always upbeat and positive.”

Working underneath Board, Malawsky said none of the coaching staff feel underappreciated or as if their opinion doesn’t mean anything.

“He doesn’t micro-manage, and is really receptive to suggestions. It’s never Mike’s way or the highway.”

Malawsky said Board really empowers everyone on the coaching staff to have a part in all decisions made, which works to his benefit in the end.

“It only makes you want to work harder for a guy that really takes your opinion into consideration, and shows that trust in you.”

Malawsky attributes much of Board’s success to the fact that “people generally like him.”

“He’s an easy-going guy, always in a good mood, and always smiling,” said Malawsky. “Very rarely do you find Mike Board in a bad mood.” 

NLL